UK construction materials shortage

Article 12 May 2021 Experience: Real estate

On 7 April 2021, the Construction Industry Council (‘CIC’) released a statement warning of construction materials shortages due to the high demand for these products both nationally and globally. Plastics, cement and aggregates have been added to the list of products in short supply, which already included timber, steel, roof tiles, bricks and imported products (screws, fixing, plumbing items, sanitary ware, shower enclosures, electrical products and appliances).

The CIC’s statement follows reports from both the European Plastics Converters (‘EuPC’) and the Builders Merchants Federation (‘BMF’) earlier this year. The EuPC confirmed raw material shortages were affecting the production of plastic products across the EU and the BMF signalled climbing prices and delayed shipments of construction materials, particularly with regards to roofing products and timber.

These material shortages are mainly due to the effects of the pandemic on the shipping industry, namely disruptions at ports and to the global shipping routes. Surges in costs of building materials from Asia, the temporary blockage of the Suez Canal, extreme weather conditions in the USA leading to production losses and an increased number of European producers calling upon force majeure clauses in the past months have also contributed to these shortages.

The high demand for these building materials, which is set to continue through to the end of 2021, means longer lead times and higher prices. While this situation is being monitored by the Construction Leadership Council and central government, clients, developers and others involved in procuring construction projects (whether residential or commercial) are advised to plan ahead and take practical mitigating steps wherever possible by placing orders even earlier, confirming orders and ensuring communication with suppliers.